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Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Puerto Rico News Digest For July 1, 2015


The 'Impuesto sobre Ventas y Uso' sales tax, or 'IVU', increased to 11.5% at
midnight today. Long lines could be seen at stores all over the island yester-
day, as consumers rushed to purchase home improvement materials, school
supplies, tires and numerous other goods before the tax increase. Most non-
prepared food items are exempt from the tax, although prepared foods are
not. The tax increase, voted in recently by the legislature after some acrimo-
nious debate, has so far proved to be very unpopular among many sectors of
the population. The tax was passed into law with the aim of increasing reve-
nue for the financially desperate island government.


From The San Juan Daily Star:

The legislation that would declare Spanish as the official language and English
the second official language was defeated in the Senate late last week. Senate
Bill 1177 would have required the use of Spanish in all three branches of gov-
ernment in detriment to the 22 percent of island residents whose first language
is English and may encounter roadblocks in their dealings with the government.
An amended version of the bill was passed in a voice vote but the bill was de-
feated after it got a vote of 12-10 with three abstentions, falling short of the 26
votes needed for approval. The legislation seeks to repeal a 1993 law that decla-
red Spanish and English as offi cial languages of the Government of Puerto Ri-
co, returning to the state of the law in 1902. The 1993 law had the effect that the
government can use either of the two languages in offi cial documents and ins-


From Caribbean Business:

The Puerto Rico government filed late Tuesday a supplement to its quarterly
report submitted May 7 that updates the financial condition of the common-
wealth amid recent developments that have affected the government’s overall
fiscal picture. Among the document’s disclosures, the Government Develop-
ment Bank (GDB) states that the most recent projections point to a fiscal year
2015 budget deficit of $705 million to $740 million, after taking into consi-
deration tax refunds paid “in excess of the reserve included in the budget for
fiscal year 2015.” The government bank had previously estimated to close this
fiscal year with a deficit amounting to about $191 million. The projected de-
ficit doesn’t include nearly $291 million in tax refunds that are currently pen-
ding payment. Moreover, the report adds this figure may be “significantly
higher,” if U.S. generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP) were used.


From PJ Media:

Democratic presidential candidate and former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley
wants the U.S. to step in and bail out Puerto Rico. ”As a nation we must help our
fellow U.S. citizens not only because it’s the right thing to do, but because our re-
gion’s economic stability depends on it,” O’Malley said in a statement today, ur-
ging President Obama and Congress to act. “Those who attempt to exploit this
situation to gain a financial or political advantage” would find that “Puerto Rico
will be united against you,” the governor warned creditors. “While Governor Gar-
cia Padilla has taken the courageous first steps to steer Puerto Rico through this
crisis, we must act now to avoid Puerto Rico’s economic collapse,” O’Malley said.

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